By Palma Ileye
President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated that his government will continue to intensify regulatory and supervisory roles in ensuring that mining was held to the highest standards of sustainable development and intergenerational equity.
Buhari made this known on Tuesday, at the Opening Ceremony of the 6th edition of the Nigerian Mining Week, held at the International Conference Center in Abuja.
According him, the event was a very significant complement to the vision and sustained effort to accelerate the growth of the mining sector as a major contributor to Nigeria’s economic diversification programme.
The Nation’s President disclosed that since the beginning of his administration in 2015, he intentionally prioritised the development of the country’s mineral resources as one of the frontiers for economic growth.
This, he said led to the comprehensive Roadmap for the Growth and Development of the Nigerian Mining Sector and we have steadily followed the steps set out in the roadmap. So far, we can say without fear of contradiction that this administration has committed more resources to the development of the mining sector than any other government in the history of this country.
Represented by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, he noted that his administration was proud that the indices of development in the sector were rapidly changing.
He said: “Part of this is the increased revenue generation and of course the unprecedented investment interest that the industry has attracted in the past few years. Nigeria, for the first time, has a world-class gold mine in Segilola, Osun state, operated by Thor Exploration. Also, Eta Zuma Mining and Industries Limited and Mosra Enerji are mining and supplying the coal needs of Dangote and Bua Cement factories. In the steel industry, African Natural Resources and Mines Limited, owners of the Kagarko Integrated Steel plant, is about to produce liquid Steel from its Iron ore mine in Kaduna State. Several other investors are at different stages of mine development in various parts of the country, and these strategic milestones will hopefully catalyse more mining investment in the country.
“I firmly believe that the sector, when fully developed, will outstrip other sectors of the economy in export earnings, and the creation of good paying jobs and opportunities. Besides, it will stimulate industrial growth as a local source of raw materials and improve the quality of life in rural communities.
“But we all know that The mining sector has always needed a transformational leap to contribute meaningfully to the envisioned economic growth of the country because despite the glorious contribution of the mining sector to our national economy in the past and the abundance of mineral resources found in almost every state of the Federation, the growth of the sector stagnated for many years, especially since the early 1970s. And there have been many notable efforts by previous administrations to wake the sleeping giant that is the mining industry.
“I am pleased to join you all at this opening ceremony of the 6th Edition of the Nigerian Mining Week. And I must say that the organisers of the mining week, the Miners Association of Nigeria, PwC, The Vuka Group and our hosts the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development deserve our commendation for faithfully organizing this event in the last 6 years.
“Year after year, you have outdone yourselves, by showcasing Nigeria’s mineral assets and its dynamic mining ecosystem to potential local and international investors. Well done indeed.
“On our part, the government will continue to intensify its regulatory and supervisory role in ensuring that mining is held to the highest standards of sustainable development and intergenerational equity. On a brighter note, it is now well known that the global energy systems are transiting to clean energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero. These massive changes will increase the demand for critical minerals for clean energy generation. Leveraging on the opportunities emerging from the market potentials for these minerals, government is encouraged to intensify the exploration of these critical minerals. The investment community is also invited to participate in the mining and processing of minerals along the entire value chain of this emerging opportunity.
“I must also say that this event is a very significant complement to our vision and sustained effort to accelerate the growth of the mining sector as a major contributor to Nigeria’s economic diversification programme”, he stressed.
Buhari also commended the efforts of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and other stakeholders in providing a conducive environment for investment. Some of the thematic activities that have been delivered include:
“As we have heard, The deployment of a digital application at the Mining Cadastre Office, Abuja, and its offices in the six geo-political zones of the country for the grant and administration of mining titles, and by the way, I will have the pleasure of commissioning this online innovation, the Electronic Mining Cadastre Plus, today.
“Of great interest also is the escalation of geological information gathering, data storage and dissemination. This has led to increased mineral finds across the country and the issuance of exploration licenses to miners.
“We must also appreciate the return of the geological data generated in Nigeria during the pre-independence era by the British Geological Survey Agency. The availability of these data in the recently established National Geodata Center at the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency is a big boost to the sector.
“The organisation of informal miners into productive work groups is another landmark activity. The Ministry has increased the formalisation of mining activities and stimulated downstream development by the establishment of gemstones and Jewellery Marketing Centre in Oyo State, a Gold Ore processing plant in Kogi State, a Gold Souk in Kano State, and the construction of a Barite, plant in Cross Rivers State, Kaoline plant in Bauchi and a Lead/Zinc processing plant in Ebonyi State. The aim of these clusters is to provide direct and indirect economic opportunities for many Nigerians.
“The development of the steel sector is still a huge priority of our administration. Our vision for an industrialised nation cannot be achieved without a vibrant steel sector. We understand the huge demand for Steel and iron in our domestic markets and across the sub-region. This is why we prioritized the resolution of all the issues constraining the full operation of the Ajaokuta Steel company.
“To this end, a transaction adviser has been appointed to concession the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the Nigerian Iron Ore Mining Company Itakpe.
The selection process is ongoing. Our commitment is to break the jinx and actualise the dream of a vibrant steel sector
“Let me then thank you all for attending this 6th Edition of the Nigeria Mining Week. And assure you of the commitment of the government to support mining activities towards shared prosperity for the Nigerian people,” he disclosed.
Also, the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawal who was represented at the occasion by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Mineral Resources, Senator, Umaru Tanko Almakura said that the mining sector just like other sectors’ needed to be prioritised to contribute to the economic development of the country.
He further stated that the 6th edition of the Nigeria Mining Week was another opportunity to reflect on the benefit of the and potential as a key economic sector.
Similarly, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite stated that with the unprecedented support and direction of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, and the National Assembly, the Ministry has recorded some significant achievements that have defined a growth trajectory for the Nigeria Mining Sector.
Adegbite recalled that this administration inherited some key legacy issues that were fundamental to the growth of the Mining Sector.
He noted that the Ministry had to crystalize various strategies to address the lack of geological data, weak institutional capacity to govern the sector, low revenue generation, informal mining and community issues, and the protracted litigations on the nation’s steel assets.
He highlighted some of the Ministerial deliverables targeted towards attracting investors into the huge opportunities and markets in the Nigeria Mineral value chain to include: the Up-grade and Automation of the Mining Cadastre Office and the creation of Zonal Offices in all the Geopolitical zones in the country. The new Mining Cadastra System will be commissioned in this conference. Nigeria now has Cadastra System that is efficient, non-discretionary, transparent and accessible to investors throughout the world.
The Generation of Geological and Exploration Data to improve investment competitiveness. The Nigerian Geological Survey Agency intensified its exploration activities throughout the Country. The National Integrated Mineral Exploration Project, a flagship project of the Ministry is to generate geological information and discover more minerals is nearing completion. The National Integrated Minerals Exploration Project, generate geological information and discover more minerals. The results are fascinating as new mineral finds are discovered. Target mapping and drilling has been completed in the Bitumen Belt and prospectively areas are being advertised for concessioning. The NGSA laboratory in kaduna is being strengthened and is undergoing ISO Certification process. The laboratory will no doubt aid in the local analysis of mineral samples. The Fire Assay equipment has been commissioned.
And Application of Digital Processes in the Governance of the Sector. A number of strategic investments are made in the development of digitized platforms and technology infrastructure to support digital systems in the governance of the mining sector.
He also noted that one of the priority goals of your administration was to reposition the mining sector, within the framework of your economic diversification policy, to become one of the frontiers of sustainable economic growth for Nigeria.
“Your ambition was the rejuvenation of a mining sector that is globally competitive and capable of contributing to wealth creation, providing jobs and support to industrialization in a conducive environmental and social ecosystem. My Ministry was charged to drive this transformation.”
The Minister further disclosed that the government was currently establishing a complete and comprehensive national electronic geo-databank which will assist in quick and effective information management and investment decisions adding that the geo-data will be easily findable and accessible in a digital formal throughout the world
“A Remote Sensing Centre initially targeted at informal mining sites is currently being established at the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Department at the Ministry Headquarters. The remote sensing is intended to cover the whole of Nigeria and has the ability to locate small and large scale mining sites. This system will greatly assist in the control and management of informal miners operating in all parts of the country.
He also listed advancing the formalization of information mining operations in Nigeria. Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining operations constitute over 80% of Nigeria mining. They form an important constituent of the sector. They operate outside the constituted legal system and their operations is inimical to the environment and economy of the nation.
In his welcome address, Partner and Mining Leader, PwC Nigeria, Cyril Azobu said, climate change was having a negative impact on our world, and globally, the drive was to commit to achieving Net Zero.
Azobu said that, “the mining industry was arguably better positioned than any other sector to transition to cleaner energy” adding that the PwC’s latest global mining report, Mine 2022: disclosed that, a critical transition, reveals that net zero and the energy transition will drive demand for certain metals.
He pointed out that Nigeria’s mining industry can position itself to make the most of this opportunity. For that to happen, Environmental, Social, and Governance, ESG, issues must be a critical driver of
developments in the sector.
He revealed that centering ESG will ensure sustainable exploitation of the nation’s mineral resources, positively impacting the environment and building trust in our communities.
He further stated that this will also enable the sector to benefit from the change in the investment landscape, where investors are increasingly demanding ESG commitments.
Meanwhile, the Acting President of the Miners Association of Nigeria, MAN, Alh. Musa Muhammad said the platform of the Nigeria Mining Week has been utilized over the years to do a wholesome critique of the national mining ecosystem, viz: the challenges, stages of development, the potentials and emerging opportunities, and the ways forward.
He, however, hinted that in spite of the fact that some of the legacy challenges were yet unresolved and new ones are emerging, adding that there are quite some notable developmental strides being driven by the regulatory Ministry and its agencies.